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Powell and Patten

Powell and Patten

Thu, 1 Mar 2001 14:15:51 -0500

Powell on ESDI, Ira

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Christopher Patten, the commissioner for external relations of the European Commission, held a brief press availability before their meeting February 27 in Brussels.

Powell said he looked forward to playing a "very, very active role" in fostering the relationship between the United States and the European Union.

Asked to comment on efforts to create a European Security and Defense Policy and a rapid reaction force, Powell said the other NATO foreign ministers whom he met with earlier in the day would "push this program in a way that will be fully integrated within the planning activities of NATO. So, I leave comforted by that thought."

Asked about "re-energized" sanctions against Iraq, Powell stressed that no decision has been made yet, but proposals include tightening sanctions on armaments and on weapons of mass destruction material -- "on all those sorts of equipment and other materials that put the people of the region at risk" -- while removing some of the restrictions on materials that could go to civilians so that Saddam Hussein "will no longer have an excuse of saying that we are hurting the Iraqi people."

Following is the transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman February 27, 2001


Brussels, Belgium February 27, 2001

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: I am delighted to welcome the Secretary of State to the Commission this afternoon. We are delighted he has been able to fit us into his visit, which I know has been extremely crowded and very important. We hope that he will be able to make many further visits to the Commission over the next few years. We look forward to an extremely good, candid, open and constructive relationship with President Bush and the new Administration.

We are looking forward to conversations today with President Prodi on subjects like the Middle East, the Balkans, the usual suspects. So, once again, it is a great pleasure to welcome Secretary Powell and we hope we will have many other opportunities of doing so.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Chris. It is a great pleasure to be at the Commission. It is my first visit ever to the Commission. In my previous incarnations in public service, I was mostly a soldier and a National Security Advisor. But I have discovered in my one month as Secretary of State the depth of the relationship that now exists between the European Community, and the Union, and the United States and I look forward to playing a very, very active role and fostering and furthering that relationship.

I didn't want to make this first trip to Brussels without having an opportunity to drop by and pay my respects to the President and to Commissioner Patten -- and not just pay my respects but to begin the dialogue and to share our mutual views on a number of the pressing issues of our time. So, thank you for your welcome, Chris, and I look forward to our conversation.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, I would like to have your comments on European Defense and Security Policy and the European Rapid Reaction Force?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the European Defense and Security Policy, as I said earlier today at NATO, the United States supports this effort and I presented that support once again, as did President Bush when he spoke last week with Prime Minister Blair. Of course, we will always be watching to make sure that it results in added capabilities for the alliance and added capabilities for the EU. So the member nations have to do more in order to bring this capability to life. We also want to make sure that it does not compete with NATO and doesn't conflict with NATO.

The discussions I had today with my colleagues suggested that they are all very mindful of those issues and they will push this program in a way that will be fully integrated within the planning activities of NATO. So, I leave comforted by that thought.

QUESTION: Mister Secretary, do you any have any comment on the Iraqi Foreign Minister's statement that under no circumstances will the Iraqis allow weapons inspectors to return? How does this affect your strategy for re-energizing the sanctions?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well that's his choice. The ideas that we are considering -- and of course no decisions have been made -- really are not just re-energized sanctions. They tighten sanctions against those targets of the sanctions in the first place. If we move forward with the proposals that I have been shopping around the region, we will tighten sanctions on weapons of mass destruction material. We will tighten sanctions on armaments. We will tighten sanctions on all those sorts of equipment and other materials that put the people of the region at risk.

What we would do, then, is remove some of the restrictions on the materials that could go to civilians and to civilian use, so that he will no longer have an excuse of saying that we are hurting the Iraqi people where the intentions of the sanctions from the very beginning have been for the purpose of constraining his appetite for weapons of mass destruction. We will also do everything we can to strengthen the controls we have on the "oil for food" money that goes to the regime. We have had some success in the last couple of days in discussions with the frontline states in the regions to tighten up on his ability to smuggle out things.

So, at the end of the day, they will have to decide whether inspectors are coming back in. If they don't come back in, then the conditions set by the United Nations will not be met, and he will consider himself still trapped in the box that he has constructed for himself.

So, there are lots of ways to describe this idea. Some have said that they are going to be "smart sanctions," some have said that they are going to be "re-energized sanctions," but really what we are going to see are strengthened sanctions against the threats that the sanctions were intended to deal with in the first place.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER PATTEN: Thank you very much.

(end transcript)


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